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Russia Celebrates Victory Without Victory in Ukraine; World Food Programme Warns of Famine; Manhunt Ended in a Chase Leading to Death; South Korea with a New President. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired May 10, 2022 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, and a very warm welcome to our viewers in the United States and right around the world, I'm Isa Soares coming to you live from Lviv, Ukraine.
Vladimir Putin celebrates Victory Day in Moscow even with no clear victory in Ukraine as his troops continue their brutal assault around the country.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Rosemary Church in Atlanta. Also ahead this hour, after more than a week on the run, a violent end in the hunt for a former Alabama prison guard and an escaped inmate.
SOARES: Welcome to the show, everyone. It is 10 a.m. here in Ukraine where Russian forces are stepping up their attacks on the port city of Odessa. Residents and witnesses report a barrage of missile strikes throughout the day on Monday. Local officials say Russian forces are firing cruise missiles from the air and the sea, hitting a shopping mall, as well as two hotels.
Many analysts believe Russia wants to capture all of Ukraine's Black Sea ports and close off its southern port. Farther east, in Mariupol, Ukrainian fighters say they're holding out at a besieged steel plant. The defense ministry claims Russian forces are using tanks as well as artillery in a continued stormed offensive at the site.
Government video shows Ukrainian flags as you can see there flying over the factory although CNN cannot independently verify it is still there. And video from Kharkiv shows the aftermath of an attack on a civilian convoy that killed several people. It's not clear when it was recorded but authorities say they lost contact with the convoy on Friday.
Well, western officials are pushing back after president -- Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a defiant Victory Day speech on Monday repeating baseless claims about Nazis in Ukraine and accusing the west of creating threats on Russia's border. U.S. President Joe Biden says he's concerned Putin may feel backed in a corner with Russian troops making a little headway and no clear path out of the conflict.
Meanwhile, the French foreign minister suggested Putin is, quote, "in denial" and trying to rewrite history.
For more, let's bring in CNN's Clare Sebastian, she joins me now from London. And Clare, you and I were covering the speech yesterday as President Putin spoke. And you left many people really reading between the lines as to his plan of attack. How has his speech been received?
CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Isa, you really did have to sort of go back over his words, which were defiant but also very carefully chosen. He didn't once actually mention the world Ukraine in the speech, referring instead only to the Donbas region. At one point he said I am addressing around forces in Donbas militia. You are fighting for our motherland.
The suggestion being that their motherland is one in the same. So, I think that the sort of fear in the west now is that he is laser- focused on these key areas that he wants to take. He wants to consolidate any gains that he's got. And the sense was that he was preparing the Russian people for the long haul a decree to sort of look after the families of victims in this war.
That was telling and that is why I think we see interestingly in the west, thoughts turn to how this ends. Not only President Biden saying, you know, he's concerned that there might not be a sort of an off-ramp for President Putin apart out of this that he might feel that he is cornered.
But also, French President Macron saying, you know, we have to look at how we deal with peace, we shouldn't repeat the mistakes of World War I, not even World War II but World War I where Germany was sort of humiliated and isolated in the wake of that, that of course sort of precipitated the events that eventually led to World War II. He was calling for caution and a continuation of efforts of diplomacy.
SOARES: And Clare, really, in the last, kind of few months, I think it's fair to say, we have all been focusing on the offensive that we have been witnessing in the east, but we have also seen increased attacks and having shelling on the port city of Odessa. Just explain to our viewers the strategic importance of Odessa here.
SEBASTIAN: Yes, Odessa is the third most popular city in Ukraine, Isa, at least it was before the war and incredibly important to the Ukrainian economy. Ukraine and Russia together represent 80 percent of the world's wheat and a lot of that wheat from Ukraine is exported to Africa and the Middle East and Asia through the port of Odessa.
That is now under Russian blockade. Exports cannot get out and there are major fears growing in the U.N., the World Food Programme also of international ports is about what that means. The World Food Programme say 400 million people rely on those exports and will be potentially forced into hunger because of this.
President Zelenskyy also addressed this in his nightly address on Monday. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): This is not just a strike at Ukraine, without our growing export, dozens of countries in various regions of the world have found themselves on the brink of food deficit. With time, the situation can truly become disastrous. Politicians have already begun looking into ramification of price crisis and food shortage in the countries of Africa and Asia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SEBASTIAN: Evidence is also growing, Isa, that Russian troops are actually stealing a grain and farm supplies. This is something cited by multiple sources to CNN, as well as the United Nations. Again, a sign of just how far beyond the borders of Ukraine and Russia this conflict will have ramifications.
SOARES: Yes, very much what the deputy mayor of Lviv has told me, something is very much worried about given of course not just the impact it will have on the economy but the so many, the millions displaced in Ukraine, 7.7 million. Clare Sebastian, thanks very much. Clare Sebastian joining us from London there.
Well, joining me now is Oleksiy Sorokin, he's a journalist with independent media outlet in Kyiv -- the Kyiv Independent.
Oleksiy, a very good morning to you. Let me start really where Clare Sebastian really left off in Odessa. We have seen the port city being pounded in last few days, civilian infrastructure also being hit. Can Ukrainian forces hold their ground in this large city?
OLEKSIY SOROKIN, POLITICAL EDITOR, KYIV INDEPENDENT: Well, yes, at first the Russians had to take Mykolaiv to be able to encircle Odessa. But the worrying thing is that until recently, Odessa was spared. And now we see that Russians are focusing on this port city of one million people.
SOARES: Yes, for so long, I've been hearing from military analysts that actually any shelling that we were seeing in Odessa was simply a distraction. That doesn't seem to be the case right now.
SOROKIN: Yes, it looks like Russia is serious on trying to take on Ukrainian south. On basically making Ukraine a landlocked country. For this we see that some unexplained activity is going on in Transnistria where local Russian proxies reported that Ukrainians are targeting Transnistria, which is obviously not true.
Also, we see that Mykolaiv, the frontline city in Ukraine's south is also increasingly attacked. So, we expect that Russia will continue its offensive in that region. And unfortunately, Odessa maybe next.
SOARES: Odessa maybe next. And we have seen the relentless attacks and more signs of brutality at the hands of Russian forces in Luhansk in the east. I'm thinking in particular here of the school shelter, I think it was on Saturday it was turned into rubble. Officials telling us that 60 people most likely dead.
What are you learning from that city and from that village, I should say, and then the more than 30 rescued from that rubble?
SOROKIN: Unfortunately, in cities in eastern Ukraine and southeastern Ukraine, it's impossible to count the victims, the civilians of Russia because those cities are constantly shelled. We know this happened, for example, in Mariupol where Russia bombed the Mariupol drama theater. And we still don't know the exact number of casualties, which ranges from 300 to 600. So here we currently have knowledge of around 50, 60 people dead unfortunately.
SOARES: And I want to get your thoughts, Oleksiy, what we heard from President Putin, because many of course believe that his plan was to secure a victory by May the 9th, but that clearly hasn't happened. Instead, there seems to be no end in hostilities. So how was his speech interpreted by Ukrainians?
SOROKIN: Well, definitely not lived up to the hype. A lot of people in Ukraine we're worried that maybe mobilization can be called. That Putin will declare a formal war and launch an even more brutal military offensive. Although I know that a lot of people have left Kyiv for days of May 8 and May 9th to be secured from a potential even a nuclear strike even.
But we see that Russia is not ready right now to use nuclear arms. And besides, that they currently lack ideas on how to increase their attacks on Ukraine and I think they are currently out of ideas.
SOARES: Oleksiy Sorokin, always great to get your insight. Oleksiy there joining from the Kyiv Independent.
SOROKIN: Thank you.
SOARES: Thanks very much. Stay safe. Thank you.
And still to come right here on CNN, a very dramatic as well a deadly end to an 11-day manhunt in the U.S. for corrections officer and a jail escapee. How police found the pair, just ahead. You are watching CNN newsroom.
CHURCH: An Alabama corrections officer accused of helping a murder suspect escape from jail has died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. An 11-day national manhunt was -- for the pair ended on Monday in Indiana following a car chase with police that resulted in a crash.
CNN's Nadia Romero picks up the story from there.
RICK SINGLETON, SHERIFF, LAUDERDALE COUNTY, ALABAMA: It ended the way that we knew it would. They are in custody. NADIA ROMERO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A defiant and triumph Lauderdale County Sheriff, Rick Singleton, detailing what happened when U.S. Marshals captured corrections officer Vicky White and inmate Casey White. First, this F-150 truck and Casey White spotted at a car wash in Evansville, Indiana, reported to Alabama authorities Sunday night.
DAVE WEDDING, SHERIFF, VANDERBURGH COUNTY, INDIANA: After the vehicle was located a while back, we at least knew they may have been in our area. But I couldn't believe that they had remained here.
ROMERO: Monday, U.S. Marshals found them in a hotel in Evansville. That's when marshals say the two fled police in a gray Cadillac. Casey White was driving, Vicky White in the passenger seat. U.S. Marshals pinned their car. They ended up in a ditch. Casey White surrendered, but U.S. Marshal say Vicky White Had a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. She died from those injuries Monday night.
Sheriff Singleton says Casey White will be brought back to Alabama for his arraignment. He's expected to return to the same place from where he escaped more than 10 days ago.
SINGLETON: He's not getting out of this jail again. I will assure you that.
ROMERO: The Lauderdale County district attorney says he is focused on the victims of Casey White and the family of Connie Ridgeway. Casey White is set to stand trial for capital murder charges related to Ridgeway's death this summer. The Lauderdale County district attorney says his office will be ready.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CONNOLLY, LAUDERDALE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: After finally being able to indict him for her murder of having this twist and turn in that case, it's got to be devastating to them. So, we look forward to bringing him to justice.
ROMERO: Nadia Romero, CNN, Lauderdale County, Alabama.
CHURCH: Sri Lanka's outgoing prime minister had to be rescued by the military early Tuesday after protesters clashed near his home. Sources tell CNN protesters tried twice to breach his compound, but failed. The prime minister resigned on Monday, following weeks of civil unrest amid the country's worst economic crisis in decades.
On Monday alone, several people died after the violent clashes broke out in the capital city of Colombo. In his resignation letter, the prime minister said he was quitting to help form an interim unity government to help lift the country out of crisis.
Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Junior is on the brink of accomplishing something that would've been unthinkable decades earlier. According to unofficial results, he appears to be winning the Philippine presidential election by a landslide. His father was ousted as the country's dictator 36 years ago.
Unofficial projections have Marcos winning about 30 million votes, compared to just 14 million for his closest challenger. But not everyone was happy. Crowd staged a protest in front of the Philippine Election Commission in Manila after it appeared that Marcos was headed for a landslide victory.
Well, Russia's war in Ukraine could lead to a new iron curtain on the border with Finland. Coming up, we report live from Helsinki as Finland edges closer to joining NATO.
CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, South Korea has inaugurated its new president. Yoon Suk-yeol begins his five-year-term with an increasing nuclear and missile threat from North Korea. But in his inaugural address, Yoon said he had a, quote, "audacious plan to strengthen North Korea's economy in exchange for denuclearization."
CNN's Paula Hancocks is in Seoul and she joins us now live. Good to see you, Paula. So, what more are you learning about this audacious plan and how challenging will the road ahead likely be for South Korea's new president?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, it is likely to be fairly challenging. It's not just North Korea an issue that he is going to have to be deal with, really from day one. Now what he said during his inauguration speech was slightly different to what we have had heard during the campaigns. And even when he was president elect. He has had a far more hardline stance on North Korea than his predecessor.
President Moon Jae-in who is very pro-engagement. But what he said was if Pyongyang was able to make genuine attempts at denuclearization, then there could be an audacious plan to boost the economy. Now, of course the problem with that is that North Korea does not appear to be willing to even talk about denuclearization at this point. In fact, they've just carried out a few days ago their 14th missile launched of this year. So that is going to be an issue.
But President Yoon Suk-yeol is someone who has very little political experience at this point. So, let's look at exactly what he is experienced with.
My apologies, I thought we were running a previous report. So let me talk you through it then, Rosemary. Basically, he was a prosecutor who was leading the prosecution against the former president, Park Geun- hye who was subsequently impeached. He was then promoted by President Moon Jae-in who followed her.
And that is really his experience, an anti-corruption ticket. His foreign policy experience is close to zero. His political experience, this is effectively his very first political job. And it is a big one. President of South Korea he will have to deal with the issue of Pyongyang, given the fact that they are very much on a, or out of testing and trying to improve their weapons capability at this point with no intentions of sitting down for talks.
He's also dealing with a number of domestic issues. Looking at a COVID ravaged economy, looking at intense polarization within the country itself. And he doesn't have the biggest mandate. It was one of the closest, in fact the closest presidential election in South Korean history. He only just won the presidency with less than 1 percent. Rosemary?
CHURCH: Yes. The world will be watching to see the direction he takes. Paula Hancocks joining us live from Seoul, many thanks.
And let's head back down to my colleague Isa Soares who joins us live in Lviv, Ukraine with the very latest on the war. Isa?
SOARES: Thanks very much, Rosie. Good to see you.
Updating our top story this hour. If you are just us, a very good morning.
Russian forces are bombarding the port city of Odessa with missiles. Local officials say it's mainly civilian targets there have been hit including a shopping mall and two hotels. At least one person has been killed and several others are wounded.
Now military analysts say Russia likely wants to capture Ukraine's entire southern coast, cutting off its access of course to the Black Sea. And Russia's war in Ukraine has many people in Finland and Sweden urging their countries to join NATO. And that decision to join the alliance could come this week from Finland.
For the very latest, our international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is live for us this hour in Helsinki. Nic, I heard from Carl Bildt yesterday roughly this hour on the show, he is of course the former Swedish prime minister, and he told me that both Finland and Sweden will declare their intention to join NATO in a little more than a week. So, what does this mean for Europe?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (on camera): It's very significant. It's the biggest sort of geopolitical shift in recent European history. It's a momentous decision for the Finish and the Swedish people. And they will be taken in Finland at least by the parliament within the next week. That's the great likelihood.
The president of Finland will speak in a few days about this to give his opinion. The prime minister's party will make their decisions likely over the weekend. But Finland is very much heading towards it seems joining NATO. And that is quite simply because of what they see happening over that long border they have with Russia. And their concerns of what happens in Ukraine, could tilt towards them.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ROBERTSON (voice-over): Through the trees to the left, Russia, to the right remote Finnish farmhouses. Through clearings, a glimpse of the flimsy fence following much of the 1,300 kilometer, 830-mile border that separates them.
(On camera): It's quite remarkable how open the border appears to be. We are not allowed to walk across the field. But at the other side of the field, less than 100 yards or 100 meters away, it's a loss waist high fence, a few wooden poles and some wire.
UNKNOWN: All right.
ROBERTSON: For clearer view of the border, you need to get above it. From up here you can really see just how fine the border is, tracing its way across the countryside. It looks calm, yet below here, the biggest geopolitical realignment in a generation is taking place.
Sirkku Korhonen is caught in it. Her farmland touches Russia.
SIRKKU KORHONEN, LIVES ON RUSSIAN-FINNISH BORDER: Our land is zero meters.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): You land is on the border?
ROBERTSON (voice-over): How do you feel about that now?
KORHONEN: Confused. It is -- it has been said, but now it is. Now, it is different.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): For Finns that change in feeling came fast, once tepid support for NATO rocketed as Russia invaded Ukraine from one-third to over two-thirds in a matter of weeks.
UNKNOWN: NATO, of course, NATO.
UNKNOWN: Excellent choice because now we now need protection. And it's the best available.
UNKNOWN: I'm sure NATO would be that gate to us (ph). That no one will invade us.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Here in Finland's east, generations have grown, Russia can be a dangerous neighbor.
ROBERSTON: If local legend would have it, when the Russian arrived here 281 years ago and stormed the (INAUDIBLE) hill, they spill so much blood this log was carried down the hill (ph) on it. ROBERSTON (voice-over): World War II commemorations of finished dead from battling the red army are plentiful, too. Finland ultimately escaping invasion by agreeing to be nonaligned.
At the Last Finnish Cafe (ph), before the Helsinki to Moscow transcontinental rail line crosses to Russia, security, not trade, is top priority, despite new E.U. sanctions on Russia harming business.
VILLE LAIHIA, WORKS IN FAMILY CAFE: If you know our common history with Russia, we were in a similar situation back in the 30s, and I think it would be really naive and foolish of us to remain neutral when we have this much historical background to learn from.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): At the local ice hockey ring, many of the pros practicing sport Ukrainian flags on their helmets. Sympathies are strong. Similarities easy to imagine.
JARNO KOSKIRANTA, SAIPA HOCKEY TEAM CAPTAIN: It is natural to bring into mind that what could happen was we are so close.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Captain Koskiranta's focus is to keep his team ahead in the game. NATO membership, he says, should help.
KOSKIRANTA: I hope it will bring more like (INAUDIBLE) a little bit relaxed and just try to enjoy our lives like we have been enjoying so far.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): At the official road crossing, one of the few places Russians can legally enter Finland, traffic is one-tenth of what it was two years ago and no apparent cross border threat.
The reverse even. This young Russian seeking Finland's safety and escape from Putin's war.
ANTON, RUSSIAN IN FINLAND: I think I will never come back to Russia.
ROBERTSON (voice-over); Really?
ANTON: Well, yeah. Probably also trying to (INAUDIBLE) because I don't want to die in Ukraine. It is not like what I would like to do.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): It may look like a flimsy fence. But in a few days, when Finland's parliament is expected to vote for NATO membership, this wire on wood border could become part of a new iron curtain, keeping Putin's ill intent at bay.
ROBERTSON (on camera): So, Finland, when it takes its decision, will be trying to do it and essentially lockstep with Sweden. They have been security and defense partners for a long time. Both nations have a long history of joint exercises and practicing military planning and procedures with NATO countries. The next step, of course, will be the NATO members deciding to allow Finland and Sweden in, if they ask.
SOARES: Fascinating piece there, Nic, with important historical context, too. Nic Robertson for us in Helsinki this hour. Thanks very much, Nic.
And still to come right here on "CNN Newsroom," the U.K. Parliament prepares to reopen line of one monarch. We are live in London with the last on the prime minister's agenda and who is filling in for the absent queen. That is next.
CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, in just a few hours, (INAUDIBLE) is ready to hit the reset button, moving past pandemic, politics and his (INAUDIBLE). Queen Elizabeth this time with Prince Charles set to deliver her opening speech instead.
CNN's Nina dos Santos joins me now from London with more. Good to see you, Nina. So, talk to us about the significance of the queen not being present and how this attempted reset is expected to play out for Prime Minister Johnson.
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks so much, Rosemary. Well, it's a big day here not just because this is an annual ceremonial event that gives the governments of the day a chance to put forward the legislative agenda for the next parliament but is also an important day from historical point of view because this is the first time, Rosemary, in 59 years that Queen Elizabeth II hasn't attended this important event.
It was unveiled yesterday evening that she was still suffering from what Buckingham Palace described as episodic mobility issues. And as result, she is going to be giving the right to Prince Charles and his heir, Prince William, to sit there in her place.
The throne will still be empty in the upper chamber, the House of Lords, and the crown will be carried in as a mark of, obviously, the right here of the monarch to be present and unveil that legislative agenda.
But it is viewed as important because what it means is essentially, the 96-year-old queen is taking her foot off the gas a little bit, if you like. We know that over the course of the summer, she is not going to be attending the garden parties that she usually does that are a big part of the social calendar here in the U.K. She pulled out of an Easter service recently, but coming up to the Platinum Jubilee. So, again, the question marks of her visibility will be crucial.
DOS SANTOS: In terms of legislative agenda, 38 bills, as you said, is an opportunity to reset the narrative away from the "Partygate" scandal and to focus on real issues like the cost of living and also policing as well. Rosemary?
CHURCH: All right. We'll watch and see how that goes. Nina Dos Santos joining us live from London, many thanks.
And thank you for joining us. I'm' Rosemary Church. For our international viewers, "Connecting Africa" is next. And for those of you here in the U.S. and Canada, I will be right back with more news after a short break.
CHURCH: U.S. President Joe Biden will be addressing a global COVID-19 summit on Thursday. This comes as his administration warns that if Congress doesn't approve increased funding to contain the pandemic, the U.S. could see tens of millions of new cases in the coming fall and winter.
To prevent that possible surge, the White House has requested more than $22 billion for updated vaccines, testing, and treatments.
You can see from this map that new cases are trending up in much of the U.S., which means another vaccine dose might be needed.
A new study finds that a fourth dose of the Moderna or Pfizer COVID vaccine is safe and provides a substantial immunity boost.
And earlier, I spoke with cardiologist, Dr. Eric Topol, and I asked him if he thought there might be a big surge in COVID cases later this year. Take a listen.
ERIC TOPOL, CARDIOLOGIST, PROFESSOR OF MOLECULAR MEDICINE, SCRIPPS RESEARCH: As you know, Rosemary, this virus is quite unpredictable. The hundred million cases in late fall or winter are certainly possible. We saw almost twice many in the worst monstrous omicron wave that really hit us in the first part of this year.
Right now, we are seeing a significant increase in cases and we are starting to see some substantial increase in hospitalizations. It is because of this variant that is about to become dominant, this so- called BA2.12.1, which is a subvariant of omicron, but it is a lot more transmissible than omicron or the BA2.
And so, we are likely going to see substantial number of cases in recent days. Today, it was 85,000. We have a few days last week of 100,000. And that is just the confirmed cases. And we know so many people either don't get tested or have rapid test. So that can be half a million cases a day or even up to a million for all we know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Our thanks to Dr. Eric Topol for his perspective there.
Well, the U.S. Senate has passed a bipartisan bill that would provide extra security for family members of Supreme Court justices.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): My body!
CROWD: My choice!
UNKNOWN (voice-over): My body!
CHURCH (voice-over): On Monday, supporters of abortion rights rallied in near the home of Justice Samuel Alito. He is the author of a leaked draft opinion that would strike down the landmark 1973 case Roe v. Wade that legalize abortion.
Over the weekend, protesters with signs reading "keep your roseries off our ovaries" gathered outside the home of Chief Justice John Roberts. He angered abortion rights supporters by calling the leak absolutely appalling while showing no concern about the likely decision to eliminate the woman's right to choose.
The demonstrations were peaceful, but the White House tweeted that the right to protest should never include violence, threats, or vandalism. Judges perform an incredibly important function in our society and they must be able to do their jobs without concern for their personal safety.
Meanwhile, the Senate will vote this week on federal legislation that would guarantee the right to an abortion. But the measure appears doomed because Democrats don't have the votes. They will, however, be able to get Republicans on the record opposing abortion rights, which could hurt them in this year's midterm elections. The vote on the Woman's Health Protection Act is expected on Wednesday.
Voters in Pennsylvania will cast their ballots in primary elections next week, and abortion is becoming a central issue in campaigns across the state and through the country.
But one Republican candidate for governor is going farther than most to tie himself to Donald Trump. CNN's Kyung Lah has our report.
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just days left before the gubernatorial primary in the battleground of Pennsylvania. We arrived at Republican State Senator Doug Mastriano's campaign rally.
LAH (voice-over): Open to the public, the campaign had said CNN could come --
CROWD: Doug for gov!
LAH (voice-over): -- to this event at an indoor hotel courtyard next to the pool. But at check-in, a volunteer says journalists are not welcome.
Do you know why the media isn't being allowed in?
We're here because Mastriano is one of the leading contenders for the Republican nomination for governor.
LAH (voice-over): He has avoided nearly all independent press. The voters rely on reporters to understand their candidates.
LAH: After the Mastriano campaign said that media wasn't allowed at their political rally, we rented a room from the hotel, who gave us permission to record the event from here.
With a CNN producer registered as a guest in the crowd and us in the balcony, Mastriano took the stage railing against abortion rights, COVID restrictions, and what he claims is Marxist ideology in public schools.
DOUG MASTRIANO, PENNSYLVANIA STATE SENATE MEMBER, PENNSYLVANIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Wow, any God-fearing, flag-waving patriotic Americans in the house here?
LAH (voice-over): Mastriano shot the national prominence in 2020, baselessly raising doubts about Pennsylvania's presidential election results. Donald Trump lost here by more than 80,000 votes. But Mastriano has ignored the truth. Instead, banging the bogus drumbeat of election lies as a state senator.
MASTRIANO: We are here today to try to find out what the heck happened in the election.
LAH (voice-over): As a gubernatorial candidate, his rally opened with a prayer mentioning fraud without offering any evidence.
UNKNOWN: We asked God, as the ballots go forth, Lord God, that you remove every fraudulent ballot, Lord God.
LAH (voice-over): The campaign fuses politics with Christianity.
UNKNOWN: God use you to call us.
LAH (voice-over): Mastriano is one of nine candidates vying for the Republican nomination. A hotly contested race that could impact the next presidential election. The next governor has the power to appoint the top election official in the commonwealth.
WILLIAM MCSWAIN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA, PENNSYLVANIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I am Republican candidate for governor.
LAH (voice-over): The field includes former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain and two state Senate President Jake Corman. But it is Mastriano who Democrats believe and hope they will face in November.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): If Doug Mastriano wins, it's a win for what Donald Trump stands for.
LAH (voice-over): This statewide ad is paid for by Shapiro for Pennsylvania.
UNKNOWN: Our next governor in Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro!
LAH (voice-over): Josh Shapiro is the likely Democratic nominee for governor and current state attorney general. Gambling that by boosting a more right-wing candidate in a swing state, Democrats come out on top this November.
JOSH SHAPIRO, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF PENNSYLVANIA: They are extremists, they are out of touch with where I know Pennsylvanians to be.
LAH (voice-over): At an abortion rights rally, Shapiro hammered away at Republicans and Mastriano. Has the general already started then for you? (ph)
SHAPIRO: I think it is pretty clear he is going to be their nominee. We think it is important that the people of Pennsylvania know that there is a clear contrast between he and I. Our democracy was worth (ph) just a few blocks away here in Philadelphia. We have a unique responsibility as Pennsylvanians to defend it.
LAH: In these final days, both Democrat and Republican are talking about abortion rights. Josh Shapiro leaning into protecting access, saying that he wants to energize women in the suburbs to come out on primary day.
Doug Mastriano says that he will sign a so-called heartbeat bill. That is a pledge that he has made to his voters, hoping to energize his conservative base. The primary is May 17.
Kyung Lah, CNN, Pittsburgh.
CHURCH: High winds threaten to make wildfires burning across the U.S. Southwest, even worse this week, and that includes the nation's largest active blaze, the Calf Canyon-Hermits Peak fire in New Mexico. It's burned through an area nearly the size of New York City and those high winds made some aircrafts grounded on Sunday.
Our meteorologist, Pedram Javaheri, joins me now with the very latest. So, what are you seeing with these winds? When more they likely die down?
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Not in the next couple of days, Rosemarie. That has been the concern here. We've had persistent winds, incredible heat here. We're talking about temperatures that are equivalent to (INAUDIBLE) in July into August, the upper 90s, low 100s, all-time record in a few spots and daily records for others. And you will notice 12 large active fires encompassing across the portions of the four-quarter states, really northern New Mexico with the concern here near Santa Fe and the town of Las Vegas, New Mexico where we've had the fire activity really flourished.
The winds at times, 40 to 50 miles per hour. Containment numbers across this region now up to 43%, but you will notice almost 200,000 acres of land consumed.
Here is the concern. Going into Tuesday afternoon, once again, the dry area firmly in place. The gusty winds continue. The ongoing draught situation remains in place. Now, eastern areas of Arizona, much of the northern half of New Mexico getting on these conditions.
The National Weather Service in New Mexico stating it is easy at it gets because in a given year, on average, they issue about 40 red flag warnings for the entire course of the year. They've issues 39 of them in the first five months of the year and 85 is the all-time record, certainly on pace here to get to that record from 2011. But you will notice, the gusty winds continue here.
JAVAHERI: It is indicated in yellow and orange. Typically, 30 to 40- mile per hour gust. Portions of Arizona getting now some of the stronger winds moving forward. But these temperatures, this is what has been concerning across this region.
Parts of Arkansas, parts of Texas, portions of the southern plains and the central United States seeing temperatures that again you would see in July into August, triple-digit heat that is in place here in the beginning portion of May. Above average temperatures are expected now over the next couple of weeks. Below average precipitation is also expected.
So, these are really concerning set of maps here for firefighting efforts across this region, Rosemary, in the next few weeks.
CHURCH: All right. Pedram Javaheri, many thanks as always.
And thank you for spending part of your day with me. I'm Rosemary Church. Our news coverage continues after the break.